January 18, 2010

Gen 46-47: The World is Not My Home

Posted in Historical, Israel tagged , , , , , , , , , at 7:33 pm by Steve

Jacob, the father of the Promise, meets Pharaoh the lord of the Empire. Through the work of Joseph, Pharaoh has become very rich indeed owning all the cattle, people and land in Egypt. The genealogy of the sons of Jacob is recorded so that the reader may know the size of the tribe entering Egypt. This genealogy will become important later when we see how many leave Egypt.

Pharaoh is gracious to Jacob because of Joseph and gives them the best land of Goshen to live in. But even now, at the end of his life and living in the best land in Egypt, Jacob makes Joseph swear to take his bones from Egypt and rest in land of the promise.

I think we all live in the land of Egypt from time to time, but this world is not my home. I have a tie my kids gave me years ago for Easter, appropriate timing, that has a sort of ancient map on it and the words “this world is not my home.” We are the children of the promise and we know that when that time comes our bones too will be taken to the Promised Land where they will be restored.

Thank you God for the legacy of Jacob, a man of passion and one in whom the covenant was lived out in a very human way. Through him we have all been blessed to know that Your love and compassion knows no bounds. We thank you for Joseph and pray that we can be a type of Joseph for those we love and in our own way, save lives through our integrity, honesty, and unfailing faith.

Amen

Miscellaneous Comment

I feel that when God calls out “Jacob, Jacob” He is calling out to the patriarch of the family and settling the covenant that God made with one family, Abraham. “I am God, the God of your father,” he said. [46:3]

This draws this family covenant into a wider national covenant through the blessings of the sons, the twelve tribes of Israel (Jacob). You can see the change in identity happening through the language which does a lot of flip-flops. “Jacob left Beersheba, and Israel’s sons took their father Jacob…” [46:5]

“We will be in bondage to Pharaoh.” 47:25

I often hear people complain that giving God a tithe or 10% is unreasonable and even impractical. Pharaoh does not save his people, but buys them and owns everything. Pharaoh is not a “living god” but a shrewd business man who cornered the market on grain in a famine. He owns his own people and demands 20% payment for the rest of their lives in order to live. Contrast that with God who generously gives us everything and asks that we return 10% to be used to feed the poor and those facing tragedy, like the recent earthquake in Haiti or the poverty in Honduras.  Are you surprised we take God’s grace and generosity for granted and often begrudgingly give as little as 1%.

Pharaoh owns people and demands a 20% tribute.

God give people life and commands we return 10% to help others. Which we then ignore.

Looking back on it, I wonder who is really in bondage here!

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January 15, 2010

Gen 41-42:Integrity Speaks Volumes

Posted in God's Character, Integrity tagged , , , , , , , , , at 4:56 pm by Steve

Integrity – doing what is right even when no one but God is watching

 

Joseph had integrity even in prison. Betrayed by his brothers and thrown in prison because of Potiphar’s wife, Joseph still uses his spiritual gifts to help those that needed his help. In time, Joseph’s integrity will be remembered because of an act of kindness two year earlier.

We cannot always know the ramification so our actions and we certainly won’t always be applauded for doing good. Sometimes just the opposite. But we know that as followers of Jesus we must true to our nature, but salt and light in a dark and weary world.

One of my favorite quotes is by William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania!

“Right is right even if everyone is against it. Wrong is wrong even if everyone is for it.”

So how can we know what is right and good? Trying Reading Micah 6:8

Pharaoh dreams the same dream twice to provide this an important message and not as Scrooge would say, “a bit of undigested beef.” In a moment of crisis they remember Joseph. Isn’t this typical. We don’t remember God until we’re in crisis mode. The story of Israel is one of abundance leading to idolatry leading to crisis. Will we ever break this cycle?

Joseph stand before Pharaoh, the monarch of all Egypt and might easily have taken the credit, the reward, and the fame for his wonderful ability to interpret dreams.  BUT HE DOESN’T. Even though he is in prison and has no prospects yet of release, he praises God for the gifts he has. When was the last time you praised God for the work of your hands, mind, or heart.

Believe me when I say, I can’t preach! But God can through me! Mother Teresa once said she was nothing but a little pencil in God’s hand writing a love letter to the world. I like that!

Joseph tests his brother by asking them to bring Benjamin, the youngest who Joseph had never seen. I found it interesting that Joseph imprisoned the brothers for three day. And on the third day brought them out to offer them a solution.

Redemption comes after three days.

 

What do you think?

January 14, 2010

Gen 38-40: Men Behaving Badly

Posted in Betrayal, Human Nature, Prophecy tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 10:59 am by Steve

The encounter between Judah and Tamar is described in rather great detail for a Biblical Story. Surprisingly Judah is a great patriarch of the nation of Israel, yet this story certainly doesn’t paint him in a noble, let alone spiritual, light. Nevertheless, it truly is a human story of people who make rash judgment and the need for leaving a legacy.

The writer wants us to know something more than just the facts of prostitution and retribution. It is an odd story that is shoved in between the initial dream of Joseph toward his brothers and being sold into slavery in Egypt. Why is this story so important that it breaks up the flow of Joseph’s troubles? I suspect this story of Judah and Tamar may shed some light on the unfolding story of Joseph. What do you think?

The writing builds to a surprise ending for Judah but not for the reader. We are let in on the story as it unfolds. We are, if you will, allowed to be in a god-like position as we encounter the story. We know that Judah has not kept his promise to Tamar yet is eager to exact judgment for what he perceives to be prostitution. We are quick with retribution and slow with reflection and redemption. We realize that there is more going on here than Judah realizes. Judah is making rash decision without full knowledge of his own involvement and betrayal of Tamar. Because of him, she is a woman without a family, without a purpose, and with no one to care for, love, and to build a life with. She is widow, forever grieving what might have been.

In the end Tamar takes matter into her own hands and has twins to Judah, Perez and Zerah. We will see their names again in Matthew 1:3 along with Tamar as part of the genealogy of Jesus. This seemingly insignificant event is used by God and highlighted by Matthew as the fulfillment of God’s promises in ways we would never imagine. Even Tamar pretending to be a prostitute is used by God. So don’t be surprised that God uses us and the events in our lives to bring about this plans and purpose.

As we transition to Joseph we must understand that the events that are unfolding, however unfortunate for Joseph, will also be used by God.